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A blue fire tornado seems like it could be an alarming natural tragedy, but this event could really offer an approach to burn off fuel with minimal carbon emissions, new research discovers.

A fire tornado, or fire whirl, can occur during urban and wildland fires, threatening life, residential property and the surrounding environment. However, researchers have discovered a type of fire tornado they call a "blue whirl, " and they said these flames have the ability to burn nearly soot-free.

Conventional, yellow fire whirls gain their particular shade from radiating soot particles, according to study co-author Elaine Oran, a professor of engineering within University of Maryland. Oran stated the particles in yellow whirls kind because there is insufficient air to burn the fuel totally. [Video: View a Blue Fire Tornado Spin]

The researchers had been at first learning the combustion and burning up dynamics of fire whirls on liquid. Once they discovered the swirling blue flame, the scientists stated they thought there might be a practical application when it comes to fire tornado.

Reduced-emission combustion through the blue whirl could possibly offer a remedy to "the global want to decrease emissions from both desired and unwelcome burning, " the researchers had written inside their study.

One prospective application will be assist cleanup oil spills, the scientists said. Currently, one remediation technique is always to corral the oil, generating a thick layer on water's area becoming burned. But burning the oil in this way is smoky, inefficient and partial, the scientists stated. If blue whirls could be utilized and controlled, oil-spill remediation-by-combustion might be greatly enhanced, they added.

"Fire whirls tend to be more efficient than many other types of combustion, since they create drastically increased heating to your surface of fuels, allowing them to burn quicker and more completely, " stated study co-author Michael Gollner, an assistant professor of fire-protection manufacturing on University of Maryland.

In researchers' experiments over water, Gollner said, the blue whirls not merely burn cleaner, but in addition help pull in the gasoline because of the flames' circulation.

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